After watching me on TV many people refuse to believe I have a sense of humour. The sketch in Outlook makes me look like an angry old man, a Devi Lal gone berserk. Ha, no one can write political memoirs without a sense of humour. A friend (not Mani Shankar Aiyar) told me that my book One Life is not Enough sold well because people believed it was a revised and updated version of Once is not Enough, the sex-drenched Jacqueline Susann bestseller of the 1970s. How I wish I could write like that because as my friend E.M. Forster once told me sex does pepper up the narrative. If only he had described in some detail what really happened or did not happen between Dr Aziz and Adela Quested in Passage to India, the book might have sold many more copies and resulted in steamier scenes in the David Lean film version.
Still, I am happy my book is a big hit. So far, 465 journalists have interviewed me though I am certain less than two per cent of them have actually read the book. Today, in order to get those pungent quotes about Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, they are all milk and honey to me but these guys are the same bunch who hounded me during the Volcker revelations. Perhaps I should have used a Shakespearean quote from Julius Caesar to describe the downfall of Sonia, ‘Et tu Natwar, then fall Sonia!’ See, finally a precise quote to deny Mani the opportunity to correct me like the time when I wrongly attributed a quote from Macbeth to Hamlet.
Being in politics and public life, perhaps, gave me this thick skin. Over the simple issue of a recommendation letter to the Iraqi government to help my son’s friend, the media made it out as though I had got the crude from Iraq, stored it in my bungalow’s water tanks, started a filling station, even filled up the tanks of my cars! Even today the pinpricks from the media continue. The Hindu, which I respect, recently published five letters from readers critical of my book. When the party abandoned me over the Volcker report, I felt like Shylock the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice. Manmohan Singh would not admit it, but the US was behind all this. Our pro-west diplomats and politicians laughed at my fears and they too played a role in my isolation. I was shocked when Sonia told me she was not aware of the anti-Natwar campaign during the Volcker days. Ha, she knew everything that was happening in the government and the Congress party!
Of course Rahul did not want his mother to become prime minister. What was wrong if some tears were shed on the occasion? Aren’t we familiar with maa-beta scenes from Bollywood? Of course, I do know more secrets about the Gandhis but there’ll be no sequel to the book.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 [AT] gmail [DOT] com
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Natwar Singh would have had the nations respect if he had disclosed the trail of corruption money of Queen Heiress, who he helped to the helm.
However, he has now missed that opportunity.
In India the name Natwar is synonymus with that of CON man.
I dont here mean Congress men!!!
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